Virginia Senate Passes Redistricting Reform Bills

Posted by Dan Vicuña on January 28, 2015

This week the Virginia Senate passed three bills aimed at reforming Virginia’s partisan and divisive process for redrawing legislative districts following each census. A federal court recently determined that Virginia’s congressional map is an unconstitutional racial gerrymander and ordered it redrawn. Dale Eisman, Common Cause’s acting communications director, previewed the bills in Virginian-Pilot op-ed on Sunday. Here is what happened:

SJ 284: Passed 27-21

This proposed constitutional amendment would create the Virginia Redistricting Commission, a 13-member citizen commission that would draw General Assembly and congressional districts. Legislative leaders and the two major political parties would each choose two individuals to serve on the Commission. Those 12 individuals would selected a 13th member, or if they cannot agree, the Supreme Court of Virginia would select between the two individuals receiving the highest number of votes. SJ 284 would also add criteria for drawing maps and a prohibition on the use of incumbent or political data.

Constitutional amendments must pass the General Assembly in two consecutive years with a House of Delegates election between those years and then be passed by voters in a ballot referendum. This proposal will now be sent to the House of Delegates for completion of its first-year approval.

SB 1000: Passed 28-11

Resembling the “Iowa model,” this bill would assign the task of redistricting to the Division of Legislative Services, a nonpartisan research body of the General Assembly. It would also create a citizen advisory commission to advise the Division. The Division would be required to adhere to criteria aimed at a more fair process and would be prohibited from drawing districts based on incumbent or political data. The General Assembly may amend or reject the maps. This bill will now be sent to the House of Delegates.

SB 824: Passed unanimously

This bill would place on the ballot a nonbinding referendum that would allow voters to call on the legislature to create an independent redistricting commission for General Assembly and congressional districts. This bill will now be sent to the House of Delegates.

Office: Common Cause National, Common Cause Virginia

Issues: Voting and Elections

Tags: Redistricting

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